Month: January 2018

mustard-coated, parsley-breaded cod; roasted romanesco

This is a delicious, very delicate dish, but from the evidence of my earlier posts on meals using this recipe it’s clear that I haven’t yet decided how it should end up on the plate, that is, the breaded side up or down. The recipe is clear about which side to cook, how and when, until just before the end, and then it goes silent when it’s time to arrange the cod on the plates.

Last night I went for the virginal look (coated side down), which is pretty cool, but the tastes and textures of the mustard, the parsley, and the crumbs, which coated the side resting on the plate, were still very much a part of the experience.

  • one 16-ounce fresh cod fillet from P.E. & D.D. Seafood, brought to room temperature, cut into 4 pieces of the same weight (I’ve gotten very  good at that), seasoned with salt on both sides, then only the top side (the former skin side) brushed with a little French dijon mustard which had been mixed with a very small amount of water to make it easier to spread, the two pieces dredged in a mixture of homemade breadcrumbs mixed with some finely-chopped parsley from Westside Market, browned briefly on side coated with the mustard and breadcrumb mix in a little olive oil inside a tin-lined copper au gratin pan, transferred to a 325º oven and cooked until the fish began to flake, or for about 10 or 11 minutes, although it would be best to stagger introducing the pieces to the pan if some are much thinner than others, arranged on the 2 plates and garnished with micro purple radish from Two Guys from Woodbridge [the recipe is based on Thomas Keller’s ‘Wild Cod en Persillade]
  • one box of Romanesco broccoli from Philipps Farms, where it had been stored carefully inside a cold barn since last year, that had already been broken up into florets, washed and dried, tossed with a little olive oil (not too much, to ensure a slightly crispy, slightly carbonized side dish), sea salt, freshly-ground black pepper, and part of a dried orange/golden dried habanada pepper], finely crumbled, spread onto a large Pampered Chef unglazed ceramic pan and roasted at 400º for about 25 minutes
  • the wine was a California (Lodi) white, Evangelos Bagias Lodi Chardonnay 2016, from Naked Wines
  • the music was Bruckner’s Symphony No. 3, Andris Nelson conducting the Gewandhausorchester Leipzig, recorded live

Denver steak, savory; tomato; Brussels sprouts, balsamic

The Denver steak is a fairly-recent innovation, and this was probably the first time we had ever had it. I know it’s the first time I’ve cooked it, but it won’t be the last. The flavor is as good as beef gets; it’s surprisingly tender, especially for a piece cut from the chuck; it can be cooked as easily as more familiar steaks; it doesn’t have to be sliced before serving; and it’s relatively inexpensive.

In the picture above the steak pieces look well done, but they were actually medium rare, with a very slight emphasis on the medium, because I had read that this cut could be a little chewy if cooked any less.

  • *a 17-ounce Denver steak from Greg and Mike of Sun Fed Beef (Maple Avenue Farms) in the Union Square Greenmarket, brought to room temperature, cut into 4 pieces (because of the slightly irregular shape, I wasn’t otherwise going to be able to divide it into 2 portions), dried very well, seasoned with a generous amount of freshly roughly-ground black pepper, placed on a very hot cast iron pan grill for just under 10 minutes, turning twice and salting each side after it had been seared, removed and arranged on the plates, a little juice from an organic Whole Food Market lemon squeezed on top, sprinkled with some chopped winter savory from Stokes Farm, drizzled with a little olive oil and garnished with purple micro radish from Two Guys from Woodbridge
  • two Backyard Farms Maine ‘cocktail tomatoes’ from Whole Foods Market, halved and placed inside a small tin-lined copper pan, turning once, until they had softened, arranged on the plates next to the steaks, seasoned with salt and pepper and garnished with chopped lovage from Stokes Farm
  • *more than three quarters of a pound of Brussels sprouts from Phillips Farms, washed, trimmed, dried, tossed with olive oil, sea salt and freshly-ground black pepper, roasted in a 400º oven on a large unglazed Pampered Chef oven pan until they were browned and crisp on the outside, or for about 15 minutes, and finished with a small amount of balsamic vinegar flicked on them with a small brush
  • the wine was an excellent California (Lodi) red, Karen Birmingham Reserve Zinfandel Lodi 2015, from Naked Wines
  • the music was Mozart’s 1781 opera, ‘Idomeneo’, John Eliot Gardner conducting the  English Baroque Soloists and the Monteverdi Choir, with Anthony Rolfe Johnson, Anne Sofie von Otter, Jonathan Peter Kenny, Sylvia McNair, Hillevi Martinpelto, Glenn Winslade, Cornelius Hauptmann, Peter Salmon, Stephen Charlesworth, Ruth Holton (Soprano), Carol Hall (Soprano), Angela Kazmimierczuk, Nicola Jenkin, and Nigel Robson

butter-sage-cabbage-parmesan gnocchi; cheese; mirto

This concept is brilliant!

How about the possibility of  serving a delicious homemade-like pasta without boiling anything, meaning no waiting, no heating up the kitchen in summer. I picked up a single package of this gnocchi while at Eataly a few days ago, because I had been thinking about gnocchi, and the immediate selling point, at least as much as discovering the minimal and natural ingredients, was that its ‘use by’ date lay somewhere in March.

That was only my first surprise. When I was ready to serve it last night, of course I looked closely at the cooking  instructions on the package, and then I looked again, because I had read, “pour the gnocchi directly from the package to the pan with your favorite sauce…”.

Except for introducing a little ‘leftover’ cabbage and later some grated cheese, I basically I did just that, and then, continuing the directive, I added a half cup of water, gently stirred everything for about 2 or 3 minutes, and, ecco!

Of course I’m going back for more. It will become our go-to-returning-after-an-evening-out dinner, even quicker to the table even than ordering a pizza. I bought the classic, but there are several variations each with one additional ingredient or flavor.

Since it takes so little time to make, there’s little excuse for avoiding at least one additional course, an antipasto or a cheese or fruit course, or both. Last night we had cheese and toasts.

  • 400g (14.1 ounces) of ‘mama gnocchi made with steamed fresh potatoes‘ from the Flatiron Eataly, stirred into a large vintage, high-sided, tin-lined copper pot in which 4 tablespoons of Organic Valley ‘Cultured Pasture Butter’ and maybe 40 small stemmed fresh sage leaves from Philipps Farms had been heated until the butter had become light brown, after which a large handful of shredded Savoy cabbage from Norwich Meadows Farm that had not been used in the meal the night before tossed in and wilted, slightly, up to half of a cup of fresh water added, the heat turned up a bit and the gnocchi and butter mix stirred until most of the liquid had been absorbed, when a generous grating of Parmigiano Reggiano Hombre from Whole Foods Market was mixed in, the finished dish served in shallow bowls

There was a cheese course, dominated by 2 excellent blue cheeses.


  • three Consider Bardwell Farm cheeses, a goat blue, unnamed; a cow blue, ‘Bardem Blue’; and, in the middle an ‘un-blue’, their goat milk ‘Manchester’, as something of a palate cleanser
  • toast from a loaf of She Wolf Bakery sourdough bâtard

the wine through both courses was an Italian (Tuscany) white, Marchesi Antinori Vermentino 2016, from Flatiron WInes

After the cheese, and after the few dishes were washed, there was also a digestif


  • the music throughout the meal was Gottfried von Einem’s 1944-1946 opera, ‘Danton”s Tod’, with Lothar Zagrosek conducting the Austrian Radio Symphony Orchestra and the Austrian Radio Chorus, in a 1983 recording, with Theo Adam, Werner Hollweg, Horst Hiestermann, Kurt Rydl, Marjana Lipovsek, Krisztina Láki, Helmut Berger-Tuna, Wilfried Gahmlich, Franz Wyzner, Ingrid Mayr, Alfred Muff, and Karl Terkal


tilefish over cabbage, tomatoes, wine, olives, and capers

I’m not entirely happy with this meal, although I have to say it was actually pretty delicious. It’s not really my style, either in the preparation or the presentation, since, as it turned our, both seemed to make it more of a fish stew than a grill, a sautée or a bake, any of which I would prefer to work with when cooking a fairly delicate fish.

There’s actually an explanation for what I would call the raggedness of this dish. I had welcomed the chance to do something very different from the tilefish I had cooked before, and the Mark Bittman recipe I found on line seemed to fit that and several other parameters: It included white cabbage, and I had been looking for an entrée in which I might include the large head I was keeping in the crisper; it was essentially a one-dish meal, saving me the trouble of coming up with a vegetable accompaniment, and also the cooking of it; and it looked like it would be low stress, since among its other virtues, it wasn’t going to make me flip the fish half-way through the cooking process; plus, it seemed like it wouldn’t take much time to move it from refrigerator to table.

Yet what happened was that I became seriously distracted by a loss of hot water in the apartment just as I was beginning to put the meal together. It came back less than an hour later, but by then both my concentration and my mood had been somewhat fouled. I’m not even sure how I was able to bring it about in the end.

I can’t say it was a failure, but I may not try to repeat it, if only for its aesthetic inadequacies. I have a problem with what it looked like on the plates, but I have to admit that I did forget to add the prescribed garnish of a chopped herb. There was also my discomfort with what seemed to me an unwieldy process: Because of the difficulty of cooking such a large amount of cabbage, and the fact that one of the ingredients was acidic, I found it necessary to use 2 pans for what should have been an operation requiring only one.

ADDENDUM: Now that I’ve gotten all the way through a description of this meal, I’m thinking the recipe could be saved, and I might do it again, making certain adjustments to allow for my sensibilities.

The pictures below are of the two main ingredients as they appeared at the Union Square Greenmarket.

  • two 8-ounce tilefish fillets from Pura Vida Seafood, seasoned with sea salt and freshly-ground black pepper, their skin sides dredged with corn flour (alternatively, wheat flour), sautéed, breaded side down, in a third of a cup of olive oil over a medium-high flame inside a large,  -inch seasoned cast iron pan until they had become crisp on that surface, removed and set aside on a warm platter, and 3 quarters of a pound or more of leaves peeled off from a washed head of a one-pound Savoy cabbage from Norwich Meadows Farm, gathered, stacked, and shredded, added to the pan in which the pollock had been seared, and cooked, stirring occasionally until the cabbage had wilted, then, with the cabbage now wilted and occupying a much smaller volume, it could now be placed inside a large heavy, vintage, oval tin-lined copper fish pan, and 8 halved Backyard Farms Maine ‘cocktail tomatoes’ from Whole Foods Market partially  embedded in the cabbage, followed by a third to a half cup of pitted Gaeta olives and a tablespoon of rinsed salted Sicilian capers, both from Buon Italia, and about half a cup of white wine, stirred together over medium heat for about 10 minutes, or until the tomatoes had softened and the cabbage had become tender, at which point the pollock fillets were placed, skin, or dredged side up, on top of the cooked vegetables and the contents of the pan cooked over a medium flame, undisturbed, until the fish had cooked through, or 5 to 10 minutes more, served on 2 plates with the vegetables surrounding the fillets, everything drizzled with the small amount of  pan juices that remained, garnished with chopped lovage from Two Guys From Woodbridge (although in the end I completely forgot the lovage part)
  • the wine was an Italian (Piedmont) white, Banfi Piemonte Principessa Gavia Gavi 2016, from Flatiron Wines
  • the music was Mozart’s 1779-1780 opera, ‘Zaide’, Ian Page conducting the Orchestra of Classical Opera

beet fusilli, lemon juice and zest, arugula; pinoli, parmesan

Sfoglini makes great pasta, and they use local grains and local vegetables with the flavored varieties. The beet fusilli is among our favorites. Last night I was very happy to find inspiration for another way to serve it, on line. The site I found provided merely the sketchiest of recipes and no quantities were cited, so I’ll outline here what I did with [most of] the elements that it included. Since I had no fresh goat cheese to stir into the mix, as suggested by the recipe, I used a little Parmesan, at the very end.

  • eight ounces of boiled Sfolini Beet fusilli pasta, some of the cooking water reserved (by the way, this pasta only takes about 5 or 6 minutes to cook, and it goes to al dente with no warning), drained and stirred into a large heavy antique tin-lined copper pan in which about a tablespoon of juice from a Whole Foods organic lemon had been briefly stirred over low heat with 2 tablespoons of heated olive oil, about a tablespoon of zest from the same lemon and couple handfuls of baby arugula from Eckerton Hill Farm added to the mix and gently stirred in, along with a ladle or more of the reserved pasta cooking liquid, then a small handful of toasted pine nuts tossed in, the pasta served in 2 shallow bowls, with a little Parmigiano Reggiano Hombre from Whole Foods Market grated on top, and a bit of olive oil drizzled around the edges
  • the wine was an Oregon (Willamette Valley) red, Scott Kelley Pinot Noir Willamette 2016, from Naked Wines
  • the music was Mahan Esfahani performing Bach’s Goldberg Variations, on harpsichord